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Solar-powered air-conditioning for vehicles developed


November 17, 2010

The solar-powered AC system test vehicle

The solar-powered AC system test vehicle

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The more environmentally conscious among us still driving gasoline-powered cars often feel a pang of guilt as we turn on the air-conditioning on a hot day, knowing that we’ve just significantly reduced the fuel efficiency of the vehicle and sent more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. While solar-powered AC systems – even portable ones – are nothing new, there’s been a problem getting their size down to a point that would allow them to cool a vehicle. While cars may have to wait a bit longer, truck drivers look like being spoiled for choice with another solar-powered AC system joining the i-Cool Solar system we looked at earlier this month.

If there’s one place that AC is a necessity for a vehicle, it is the humid climes of Hong Kong. So it’s not surprising to see the development of a solar-powered AC system for vehicles come out of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) through a collaboration with industry partners, Green Power Industrial Ltd. and Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong.

The system features a photovoltaic panel attached to the roof of the truck’s cab, which collects solar energy to charge a specially made battery system that powers an electric motor to drive a variable frequency-driven (VFD) compressor, which produces the cooled air. This allows it to operate on cloudy or rainy days and, because it is a stand-alone system, the AC can be switched on when the vehicle engine isn’t running.

The solar AC was installed on a Coca-Cola delivery truck for a series of tests and proved to work on the road. PolyU and its partners plan to explore further use of the system in Hong Kong.

"We look forward to having more fruitful collaboration with Green Power Industrial Ltd and Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong to build a low-carbon city. Together, we can jointly make a contribution for sustainable development of our community," said PolyU President Professor Timothy W. Tong.

Via: Green Car Congress

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

\"Look at me I have PV!\"

This is very stupid. In stead of using a visible PV panel people should look at the energy waisted in any internal combustion engine. The excess heat could be used for AC purposes, as was pointed out by the SOCOOL project at Warwick University.

Admittingly we could say that a plug-and-play electric AC can be PV fed, so the application is possible. But come on people.. THINK before you start adding cool looking gizmo\'s just for the heck of it.

Now it just oozes \"greenwashing\".

Wrrr 10-G

Why can\'t people take just be happy that there is any progress. Sustainability is a sliding scale, preach not lest ye be preached to.

Justin Schetrompf

Wrrr 10-G Don\'t you think they thought of that, Captain Obvious? We all know there is plenty of energy there to use but the cost of recapturing that heat compared to the cost of PV makes PV the better option.


Feels good to hear that technology developments are beeing put to use in good pace and people are really concious about the nature and energy.

I hade designed a solar powered boottle cooler cum vending tri cycle for Hindustan Coca-Cola, in Mumbai in concern with Miss Nishitha and Mr. Sandip from marketing department but it remained in concept. Then I learned through some sources that they are developing something similar but, I dint knew this was it.

Greate guys, I always wonder why we are taking so long to get a green product or a green techonology. I beg all the governments to put the environmently projects in greate priority with all the backing & support. There are so many ideas get killed for lack of finance and market acessibility.

Would like to see the concept in cars at the earliest so that we can save a lot more fule


Robert Thomas

hii , had the researchers face any problems with the size of the solar panels on top of the vehicle ? or how could you make such size of solar panel to generate about 1 hp o/p ? because we have a problem here with the big size of the solar panele as we workout on it as a student project in university and we need your expert .. awaiting your reply .. thanks

Mohamed Belal
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